Feb 17 2013

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Karzai says he intends to ban Afghan troops from requesting foreign airstrikes

By Richard Leiby, Sunday, February 17, 7:04 AM

KABUL – President Hamid Karzai announced Saturday he intends to ban Afghan ground forces from calling in NATO airstrikes on residential areas – even though his country’s fighters have had to rely in the past on such air power in operations against Taliban militants.

“Our forces ask for air support from foreigners, and children get killed in an airstrike,” Karzai said in a speech at a military academy here, reinforcing his often truculent posture toward the U.S.-backed international coalition that has long supported his government.

Ten civilians, including five women and four children, died in a NATO airstrike Tuesday night in a remote village in eastern Kunar province that also killed three militant commanders, one of them linked to al-Qaeda, Afghan officials said.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Why Burma is going back to school

Sober, folksy and not a fan of bunga bunga: Italy’s ‘quiet man’ Bersani holds key to country’s future

Israeli soldiers come to aid of several wounded Syrians

Cameroon gay rights lawyer seeks US refuge

Slow rebirth for post-revolution Libya

Why Burma is going back to school

Decades of military misrule has left the country’s education in a mess. But change is in the air


In Burma, isolated for decades under the rule of military dictators who invested almost nothing in education, generations have grown up with just the most basic learning. Even now, with a nominally civilian government introducing a series of democratic changes, some feel the situation is so bad that people have to relearn how to learn.

U Kawinda is starting at the grass roots. Several years ago he set up his school in the impoverished Irrawaddy Delta and started trying to help the children of the local fishermen or farmers. During the monsoon rains, the only way for pupils to reach U Kawinda’s school is by boat. During the dry period, they have to walk. There is another school, but it is several miles away, across often-flooded paddy fields.

Sober, folksy and not a fan of bunga bunga: Italy’s ‘quiet man’ Bersani holds key to country’s future

Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-left election opponent has been criticised for lacking charisma. As Europe looks on, Pier Luigi Bersani and the mogul are locked in a fight to the finish

Tom Kington in Rome

The Observer, Sunday 17 February 2013

When Silvio Berlusconi put his foot in his mouth yet again last week, claiming that kickbacks were a normal part of doing business abroad, Italy waited for a crushing rebuke from his main opponent in this month’s election.

But Pier Luigi Bersani is not a man for the cut and thrust of tough political campaigning and, as usual, failed to deliver the killer blow, managing instead the rather limp soundbite: “Enough with bribes, enough with Berlusconi.”

It was no better than Bersani’s normal service in front of TV cameras, where the head of Italy’s centre-left coalition often looks distracted and uncomfortable.

Israeli soldiers come to aid of several wounded Syrians



Israel has provided medical assistance to several wounded Syrians who turned up near a security fence on the Golan Heights. This followed a battle between Syrian troops and rebels over a town on the Heights.

Soldiers from the Israeli army provided first aid to at least five wounded Syrians on Saturday. However, it was not immediately clear whether they were civilians or combatants in the neighboring country’s civil war.

There was also no official comment on how the Syrians crossed the frontier, although Israeli media reported that they had been allowed over after they had approached the security fence that separates Israel from Syria.

Cameroon gay rights lawyer seeks US refuge


Posted  Sunday, February 17  2013 at  05:04

A Cameroonian lawyer who has received death threats for defending gays and lesbians in a country where homosexuality is outlawed has sought refuge with his family in the United States.

In his home country, homosexuality is associated with “sorcery and black magic,” said Yaounde lawyer Michel Togue, amid rising concern by international rights groups about the treatment of gays in many African nations.

“Homophobia is on the rise, and intolerance is growing,” he told AFP, recalling one case where a gay person was sentenced to “six months in prison just for declaring their love in a text-message.”

Many African nations outlaw homosexuality. In Uganda, proposed legislation would see the death penalty imposed for certain homosexual acts.

Slow rebirth for post-revolution Libya


17 February 2013 Last updated at 00:52 GMT

Two years after the start of the uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi, the BBC’s Rana Jawad, in Tripoli, finds that many Libyans feel not enough progress has been made since a new government was elected.

Bilal Bettamer is a conflicted character – a cynic, a government critic and an optimist all in one.

A recent law graduate, he is one of many in Benghazi who took to the streets and the frontline to help end Col Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule.